Eastern Crowned Warbler - copyright Dougie Holden
I see from British Birds that one local birder has further reason to celebrate. "The Carl Zeiss Award was established in 1991 and is traditionally presented for the photograph or set of photographs considered to have been the most instructive during BBRC's assessment of rarities over the previous year. Dougie Holden's winning photograph was of the Eastern Crowned Warbler at South Shields in October 2009. Without the publication of Dougie's images the record would presumably have remained as just a Yellow-browed Warbler (which is what it was assumed to be when the shutter was pressed). The fact that it represents a fantasy rarity come true is purely down to this excellent photograph, which led to the bird being identified correctly after it was posted on the web, and then appreciated by the crowds who came to pay homage over the subsequent days".
I spoke briefly to Dougie a couple of times in the days that followed the ECW and we exchanged emails about the use of the image and some of the details as I pulled together the story for a webzine article at Birdguides. What struck me then was how it couldn't have happened to a more down to earth, genuine birder. Sought after by far bigger media than me he still managed to return voicemail messages and have time to discuss it, in a feet on the ground, no nonsense way as if he was talking about a Chiffchaff that just flipped through his garden.
So for once it really couldn't have happened to a nicer guy, congratulations it's well deserved (and will look great on the mantlepiece!)